$20 a month 'student' Google Chrome laptop to be announced today?

Students will be able to buy a contract for a $20/month Google Chrome laptop. More is expected to be announced at the Google I/O conference.

While businesses will have the offer of integrated Google Chrome hardware and software at $50 per month, students will be able to have theirs for under half the price, a senior Google executive said.

$20 a month is very little for those who are less economically viable, or for many who simply want a dedicated device for their academic work. It will allow many students to simply switch off when they are not using their Chrome laptop.

Many students will already have Google Apps for Education in their university environment, though many more will be with Microsoft's Live@edu service.

There are two concerns of mine, however.

Could Google be 'pulling a Microsoft' by sending out these cheap devices to students first, in a bid to gauge reaction? Secondly, with the worries over the USA PATRIOT Act and the contracts made between non-US customers directly with a US company, suggests that all the data flowing in and out of the device could be open to US inspection.

It also isn't clear yet whether students will be able to purchase the device flat out, or be tied into a monthly contract with Google. I suspect this will be the major drawback if it is any longer than six months to a year.

Yet the one drawback with cloud based products is the wireless blackspots when users are not connected to the Internet. Google says it is "very close to solving that problem", but one might want to wait until they do before they fork out for something that may not suit students' lifestyles.

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